Point taken for Raptors

Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon has proved he can step into the starting role for the...

Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon has proved he can step into the starting role for the injured T.J. Ford. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Sam Mitchell is well aware he has a pretty good thing going at the point guard position this season and the last thing he wants is to see anything mess that up.

So it wasn't all that surprising yesterday when the attention turned from injured starter T.J. Ford to the ever-improving job by his backup Jose Calderon that Mitchell started to get a little defensive.

"Why are we having these questions?," Mitchell asked cutting off a reporter in mid-sentence. "My guys are fine. There's nothing to talk about if you guys aren't (starting it). T.J. doesn't have a problem. Jose understands his role. I'm not going to talk about that."

Had Mitchell heard the entire question he would have understood that the point being made was that the Raptors were in an enviable position with a backup who could do the job in the starter's absence with the starter knowing his starting role was not in jeopardy.

That is the relationship that has been forged between Calderon and Ford and which fed Ford's decision to finally rest a lingering ankle problem that wasn't getting any better as he tried to play through the pain.

Ford didn't come right out and say so yesterday but the likelihood is that Calderon may be running the team for at least the next two if not three games.

Ford figures the ankle was about 85% healed when he came back after a three-game absence earlier this month. He returned hoping the healing process would continue. It didn't.

PAIN WAS TOO MUCH

Monday, the pain in his ankle had increased to the point where it no longer made sense to keep hoping it would get better without taking some time off.

"I went as long as I could," Ford said. "I think I was at the end of my rope after (Monday's) shootaround.

"I want to wait until it gets a lot better definitely," he said of his plans. "I don't want to go through the process where I play a couple and then have to sit out a couple. I want to make sure that when I come back this time I can be healthy for the rest of the season."

Calderon stepped into Ford's role seamlessly Monday night, hitting for a season high 19 points and finishing with 11 assists, one off his season high in a 105-84 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Watching from the bench, Ford cheered and applauded Calderon's play along with the other Raptors.

"We all believe in each other and me being out, it doesn't feel like we can't get the job done," Ford said. "We still believe we can. (Jose's) a good player in the NBA and he continues to improve. I think every guy on this team can say they got better than what they were at the beginning of this season. His confidence is high and that's what we need whether I'm playing or not. He accepted the challenge and he has been playing well."

For his part, Calderon made it clear he has no design on Ford's job regardless of how well he plays in his absence.

"We have T.J. Ford here," Calderon said.

"I know people want to play as much as they can. I want to learn as much as I can too but I don't think too much about whether I will be a starter one day in the NBA or not. Right now I know my role and I'm good with that."

So, no Sam, you don't have a problem, and no one is trying to create one.


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